By Jeff Berlinicke
Michael Clayton's sophomore season hasn't gone according to plan, but he'll get
the chance to redeem himself in front of his former stomping grounds on Sunday.
Clayton and the Bucs will travel to Baton Rouge, La., this weekend to take on
the struggling Saints and it will be a homecoming of sorts for Clayton who
played his college football at LSU. The Saints are playing most of their home
games this season at LSU after Augusts' hurricane wiped out most of New Orleans
and damaged the Superdome.
Claytonis expecting to have more than 100 members of his family and friends on
hand, but he feels he has something to prove to them. After a stunning rookie
season in 2004, he has been the forgotten man in the Bucs offense this year.
True, the Bucs are passing less with Chris Simms still tyring to learn the
offense, but he has just 28 catches this season, good for 41st in the NFC. He
has no touchdown catches and has been prone to drops. During Sunday's 13-10 loss
to the Chicago Bears, Clayton dropped a crucial pass that was thrown low, but
Bucs coach Jon Gruden allowed for Clayton's off-season knee surgery, but said
Clayton has to step it up and become more of a force in the Bucs offense that
has struggled often this season and is in a dogfight in the NFC Southeast.
Receiver Joey Galloway has stepped it up recently, but Clayton has had more
than two catches in only one game since Week 3. Last season, Clayton led all
rookie receivers with 80 catches and seemed to have developed a chemistry
with Brian Griese that he doesn't have with Simms.
For the Bucs to generate any offense during the tough three-game road stretch
facing them, and with a playoff berth on the line, Clayton will be key.
Clayton Having Sophomore Jinx?
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